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There is much discussion about the risk averse nature of government and procurement/acquisition specifically. There are many root causes for this but one I believe to be true is the lack of leadership support when something goes wrong. It is easy to ask your workforce to be innovative and easy to hide behind a rock when something doesn’t work…but much more difficult to step up and say, “I provided the leadership and guidance, I own the outcome.”
That is exactly what Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa did at the US Department of Homeland Security when a large acquisition (FLASH) out of the Department’s Procurement Innovation office went sideways.  There were a number of protests by industry, which by the way is typical, even if no mistakes are made.  Suppliers to government many times abuse the system and file “protests” when there are really no grounds for one.
In this case, there seemed to be some legitimate issues and cause for the supplier protests. As a result, DHS cancelled the procurement.  Instead of pointing fingers, Soraya stepped up, owned the mistake and acknowledged that sometimes when you are experimenting, things will go wrong.  Soraya’s leadership is likely to strengthen the desire of the DHS workforce to try other new things, rather than crawl into a shell and just follow archaic processes.
I hope other leaders can follow in Soraya’s footsteps, both in pushing their organizations to try new things with the goal of innovating to achieve better outcomes.  But when xxx hits the fan, step up and OWN IT.  

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